A Healthier Traditional Butter Cake–Madeira Cake (马德拉牛油蛋糕)



If you do not accept the fact that a delicious cake cracks, this post is not for you.. There is nothing to be shy, embarrassed, anxious or rejected if the cake come out from your oven cracked.. Most of the traditional cakes cracked and it does not equate to not delicious.


There are many factors that may cause a cake to crack, among them are: oven temperature, more flour to butter ratio, the size of baking tin, the ingredients and the recipe problems. But cracked cake can be healthier because the usage of butter is much lower.. Traditionally, most simple butter cake have much less butter than flour. Unlike the current flat top butter cake, butter is much more than flour those resulting cakes that are oilier. This was commonly misunderstood as “moist and soothing”.


I have decided to locate a famous traditional butter cake recipe that uses less butter and try them out. I have chosen the madeira cake and I was utterly shocked that the butter content is very much less than the flour. The butter to flour ratio is on 66% meaning for 100 grams of flour used, only 66 grams of butter was used. With this low ratio, i am even more convinced to try out the recipe and see if it will suit the current taste buds.


The cake may be very slightly drier and denser as compared to the current trendy flat top butter cakes. However, texture is fine and it is totally acceptable to me. Why asked for cake that uses so much butter to sooth your throat? That can be rather unhealthy and a drier teacake is traditionally supposed to be eaten with a cup of tea and coffee. Well, I will leave  it for reader to decide.


For this illustration, I have also decided to prepare some lemon icing to go with the cake. As for the cake tin, since I do not have the suggested cake tin, I have decided to use a 5” x 5 “ cake tin instead. But this is not advisable as the cake though will be taller but chances of crack are higher.


As per Wikipedia:

“The cake has a firm yet light texture. It is eaten with tea or (occasionally) for breakfast and is traditionally flavoured with lemon.Dating back to an original recipe in the 18th or 19th century,Madeira cake is similar to a pound cake or yellow cake. It is sometimes mistakenly thought to originate from the Madeira Islands; however, that is not the case as it was instead named after Madeira wine, a Portuguese wine from the islands, which was popular in England at the time and was often served with the cake. “ (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeira_cake)



Recipe adopted from: The Essential Baking Cookbook Page 59., Murdoch Books 2000

Servings: A 20 x 10 x 7 cm (8 x 4 x 2.75 inches)


  • 185 grams of butter, softened at room temperature
  • 185 grams of white castor sugar
  • 155 grams of self raising flour
  • 125 grams of plain flour/cake flour/top flour
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons of finely grated lemon or orange
  • 2 tablespoons of milk

Lemon Glaze (optional)

  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice




  • Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius

  • Lightly grease an 8” x 4” baking tin preferably with a detachable base. Alternatively, line the baking tin with parchment paper.. (Note that as I do not have this cake tin, I have used 5” x 5” baking tin which is not advisable as it will worsen the crack)

PicMonkey Collage1

  • Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, add in eggs, lemon/orange zest and use slow speed to “mix” until well combined. Eggs should be added one by one and scrap the bottom of the bowl to ensure no unmixed egg settled at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

  • Sift in 1/3 of the self raising flour, milk and use the spatula to quickly fold in the flour.. Continue with the remaining 2/3 until all the flour  and fresh milk are added.

PicMonkey Collage2

  • Transfer to the baking tin, level and bake in the oven (at the lowest shelf) at 160 degree Celsius at 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. The baking time is for your reference and depends very much of the size of baking tin. Skewer test is still the final test. Transfer to a rack for cooling.

  • For lemon glaze, stir the icing sugar and lemon juice until well combined resembling a paste and drizzle over the cool cake. If the glaze is too dry, add lemon juice DROP by DROP. If the glaze is too wet, add additional icing sugar TEASPOON by TEASPOON. Cut only when completely cooled.



This traditional recipe used very little butter but the taste is still great. Don’t worry if your cake cracks. Is it not health is more important than the look of the cake?


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.



6 thoughts on “A Healthier Traditional Butter Cake–Madeira Cake (马德拉牛油蛋糕)

  1. Since the wine is mentioned, this reminds me of a sweet bread I really like and gives me an idea for keeping the cake moist. The bread, called Artoklasia, is served soaked in sweet red wine and sprinkled with powdered sugar. I bet that could also work for this cake, especially if the cake is flavored with orange zest (we use orange juice in the bread). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Kenneth, I agree with you that cake with cracked surface is no issue at all. In fact I refer my cake cracks. To me it is a sign of well baked cake. Even my signature pandan chiffon cracked and my chiffon always extremely well received by family and friends.

    Priscilla Poh

    • This message have to bring across younger generation that feel anxious and rejected . Seeing them sad and disappointed made me realized that times have change , traditional cuisines forgotten and time to bring back some Ah ma bakes.

  3. Hi, tq for d recipe🙂
    May i ask is cake flour the same as low protein flour?I always thought cake flour is the same with self raising flour.

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